I Love Elderberry Soup

 

The spring and summer cause great issues for foragers in the fact what do we pick first? There is so much ready all at once that it drives me mad, I work on average this time of year 18 hours, plus a day, the phone rings off the hook with many friends, family, and customers with news of a find, a new secret place to forage or they do indeed a glut of fruit that needs picking and of course (anyone who cooks will tell you this ) they all demand, new and interesting for recipes along with special tips and new ideas! I do my best and there’s the garden to tend too. Would I change it? No! Do I love it yes. 

However this year I am picking Rowan berries before elderberries that is a first for me. Elderberries need cooking before you eat them they can make you ill if uncooked.

The Leaves and stems mustn’t be used and these too can make you quite ill. So cook them first.  So yes you can make an amazing syrup, jam and jelly but here I like to tell you about a soup.

To get to the soup we first have to travel back in time to Barland Estate in Powys Wales and into Garden Cottage. In the garden the plums are ready to pick,  loganberries are ripping fast each day against the walled garden space dripping with flavour, the apples are promising a bumper crop and I am still picking raspberries, strawberries and of course, the currant cage is not giving in just yet. Our freezers are full and the larder is filling up. It’s early August and the kitchen hot from the Rayburn. A constant smell of cooking fruit fills our house.

A large bowl of water  with a small hint of wine, is on the heat, the air is filled with warm smells, first the fresh fruity aroma, then a whisper of cinnamon with undertones of  honey fill the air in between and remind me that the summer not going to last forever, my choice of school has been my undoing. I will at the end of this month get back on the bus and although my days will be busy, I not be with my mum & dad, my little brother and of  the mad dog “hop along Cassidy”  and I will miss them all so much along with the garden full of fruit and flowers, dinner will become just food.   I indeed missed them more than I ever told them. (Turn back the clock).

My mum’s storytelling was always fascinating and all the time she was passing on everything she learnt, she had a thirst for knowledge, and her desire to pass on everything she knows was so important. She was like a missionary spreading and sharing the word! Especially when she was in the kitchen, so as she cooked she told stories, and apart from cooking lessons we had, history lessons, art lessons and life lessons! Why, and how certain dishes came about why we forage and the importance of not forgetting what we once knew.

My mum was and is still my hero, she could cook anything and did indeed cook everything, and could make a meal from nothing. Her heart still beats in mine and although I miss her every single day I know she is with me every second. She made me who I am today, she taught me the love of life, passion and of course cooking.  She was outstanding at everything especially making soups, from all most anything from the garden. Even the hardened meat eater couldn’t resist her delicious green and bean soup. So as the seasons changed and slowly moved on so did the recipes and the soup. I not sure I could even to this day give you my favourite choice if I was to choose? Then I would choose them all a small tiny cup of each starting with the pea, then cold fennel, but always finishing with the Elderberry soup.

Elderberry Soup recipe 

 

1.5 litres of water

500g of Elderberries

2 tablespoons of Lemon Juice (one large lemon) 

100ml of white wine

1 stick of cinnamon

A little arrowroot to thicken or you can have this without if you would like a thin soup.

 

  1. Place on the heat water, wine, lemon juice and spice. 

Pick the elderberries off the stalks, discarding any leaves and stalks.

Add carefully to the warm water, bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and cook gently for 10-15 mins

The fruit will so mushy, Add a teaspoon of honey at this point.

  1. Strain the fruit and press out the juice. Then return the soup to the pan. (Discard the pulp)

If you would like a thicker soup, mix the arrow route with a drop of cold water and the rest of the lemon juice and pour into the soup and now season to your taste.

  1. Return to a soft heat and slowly bring to a light boil to cook the arrowroot and thicken the soup.

 

Serve with roasted ground cobnuts and sourdough bread croutons drizzled with honey.

Possible side effects (Autoimmune diseases” such as multiple sclerosis (MS), lupus (systemic lupus erythematosus, SLE), rheumatoid arthritis (RA), or other conditions: Elderberry might cause the immune system to become more active, and this could increase the symptoms of autoimmune diseases. If you have one of these conditions, it’s best to avoid using elderberry.)

Foraged & Grown

The first cut of walled garden flowers

Over the last 3 months I have undertook to restore a walled garden. A garden I found lost derelict and unloved, its a garden that Lewis Carol used in the Book Alice in Wonderland. The first book I read. Also not sure if I have told you but my mum was a brilliant chef and my dad a gardener. So this was a project calling out for me, so without a second thought I took on the challenge to restore and loving bring back this beauty. So I have drafted in the help of a few lovely friends and together our project will and has already, produced some home grown produce, organically and biodynamic for naked jam preserves, local hotels, discerning chefs, and other outlets such as Love to b who use all natural products in their wonderful skin care ranges.  The garden will also become a venue in its own right. Although a while off from being perfect, we have already booked a number of events.  Alongside the edible plants, we are growing cut flowers for wedding parties and empty vases!

One of the plans for the garden is to link it with a charity project “A cook in your Kitchen” which myself and a few friends set up last year. Brief details listed below.

To help people provide healthy home cooked meals for their families

To help people reduce their weekly food shopping bills

To help households reduce their household food waste.

The project will initially be run as a pilot and fully evaluated to test the viability of setting up a self- supporting social enterprise.To train a team of home cooks to go into customers homes and help families develop their cooking, budgeting and recycling skills .To record via a questionnaire survey the customers cooking , budgeting and recycling skills prior to the visit and after the home training session.

If you would like us to grow anything for you or your like to visit our walled garden please get in touch, I love to show you around and inspire you to grow too.  Or indeed help with our charity project please get in touch. Jen X 

Stop the morning and grab the toast!

Great Taste great jam !

Blackcurrant Extra Jam a winner , so is the Strawberry. So in 2013 I entered the great taste I won 2 * for my Lemon curd, 1* for my raspberry and in 2016 I entered again with strawberry syrup and yep it is a winner with 2 * so just when I thought I missed the enter deadline. I managed to squeeze in with 2 of my best selling products strawberry Jam and of course Blackcurrant, into 2017 awards. and……..this is what the judges said….

Strawberry jam achieved a star  the judges comments on this 
 
“Wonderful fresh summer strawberries on the nose, the set is perfect. The judges really liked the whole strawberries that still had a delightful texture and a lasting, fragrant strawberry flavour. Skillfully made”
 
and my Blackcurrant extra jam achieving 3 stars. I am feeling very proud of this achievement and I would like to thank you for the support, judges comments. 

“Beautiful deep blackcurrant flavours on the nose, a thick set, giving a deep, lasting flavour, not overly sweet, allowing the true fruit flavour to shine through. The judges loved the sheer intensity of fresh blackcurrant flavours, the quality of the fruit and gentle preservation.”

So if you fancy learning my secrets of great jam making come along to my cooking lessons at :

http://www.chewtonglen.com/the-kitchen/courses-pricing/exploring/spotted-potted-pickled/

Stop the morning and grab the toast!

Great Taste great jam !

Blackcurrant Extra Jam a winner , so so is the Strawberry. So in 2013 I entered the great taste I won 2 * for my Lemon curd, 1* for my raspberry and in 2016 I entered again with strawberry syrup and yep it is a winner with 2 * so just when I thought I missed the enter deadline. I managed to squeeze in with 2 of my best selling products strawberry Jam and of course Blackcurrant, into 2017 awards. and……..this is what the judges said….

Strawberry jam achieved a star  the judges comments on this 
 
“Wonderful fresh summer strawberries on the nose, the set is perfect. The judges really liked the whole strawberries that still had a delightful texture and a lasting, fragrant strawberry flavour. Skillfully made”
 
and my Blackcurrant extra jam achieving 3 stars. I am feeling very proud of this achievement and I would like to thank you for the support, judges comments. 

“Beautiful deep blackcurrant flavours on the nose, a thick set, giving a deep, lasting flavour, not overly sweet, allowing the true fruit flavour to shine through. The judges loved the sheer intensity of fresh blackcurrant flavours, the quality of the fruit and gentle preservation.”

So if you fancy learning my secrets of great jam making come along to my cooking lessons at :

http://www.chewtonglen.com/the-kitchen/courses-pricing/exploring/spotted-potted-pickled/

5 year Jam

me and my first award

5 years ago I entered the World Marmalade Awards and won a bronze for my Seville with Cacao it was an epic day it lead me to decided that this is what really makes my world go around. So I thank Dalemain House  for giving me the confidence that started me on this epic journey, this road has consisted of late nights and even hospital visits as I have fallen out of a trees. So thank you. (I am giving the world marmalade awards a rest, no other reason than I didn’t post it on time yet again!)

So now I  make jam and the very fact you all wanted to buy eat and enjoy it well is nothing more than fabulous. Time has flown by and I moved out of my home kitchen, to one I built, started to keep bees, planted more fruit and vegetables, teamed up with the Chewton Glen to forage sustainably. So far so good. 

I’ve lived and loved every minute, every disaster, every  high,  every low, they have all  been fantastic. Although I feel that I may have lost the plot from time to time! But you, my friends, my children and my family have been there always encouraging me, every step of the way believing in me. Which means so much to me it hard to put into words.

So thank you all for supporting me in every way be it small large for helping me forage be it picking crab apples Carol,(Daisy cake company)or for growing them Darren Venables,  to believing in my wacky ideas Martyn Nail, Luke Mathews, Leckford Farm, and of course the many bar tenders who have invited me in to help develop products cocktails and use jam in ways that made toast curl !

If I was to  say I love what I do, it would underestimate the passion I have and my urgent need to cook everyday. I am always up early and chomping at the bit to get into the kitchen.  So as I stop and reflect on the past five years, I shall share with you a few moments below. 

Antonio Carluccio at Leckford Farm shop opening

 

 

chairmans award

Waitrose Charimans Award 2013

chris evans and me

BBC Children in Need Carfest

baker boys

Lunch Break with the Fabulous Baker Boys

Food & Drinks Award Hampshire

Food & Drinks Award Hampshire

delious mag

Delicious Magazine

bear

Foraging with nothing but the Bear essentials

 

 

marmaalde madness

Marmalade madness

Bespoke Jars.

Bespoke Jars.

awrds new forest

Award Night!

me cooking

Cooking at the Hotel & Catering Show

me and luke

Cooking with Luke Mathews (my hero)

Chewton_Glen_Naked_Jam_Foraging darren

Talking Foraging with Estate Manger Darren Venables

elderflower picking

In my natural habitat

A few links to  a “little” of what I’ve been up. 

hhttp://www.barbour.com/blog/barbours-local-hero-nakedjam

http://milfordonsea.blogspot.co.uk/2013/08/jam-tastes-better-naked.

http://www.newforestnpa.gov.uk/news/article/543/naked_jam_triumphs_at_business_awards

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p03fc4dk

http://www.hampshire-life.co.uk/out-about/events/jennifer_williams_on_her_inspiration_to_set_up_her_very_own_business_1_3020527

http://www.dalemainmarmaladeawards.co.uk/cms/competitions/artisan-awards.php

http://www.dalemainmarmaladeawards.co.uk/media/2015_winners/GOLD_MARMALADE_ARTISAN_AWARDS_WINNERS_-_2015.pdf

2013 Winners

 Thank you for being part of my journey.

 

 

 

Please get in touch

We'd love to hear from you

Jen

Jennifer Williams

Chief Jam Maker

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